As preparations for iftar take place, young toddlers may often wish to assist. This is an opportune time to introduce fractions and measurement to your young helper.
To do the activity with your child:
- Do the activity over a period of two to three days (depending on your child)
- For example: On day 1, place all of the measuring cups in a basket. Take the poster board and basket and invite your child to join you.
- Briefly mention what measuring cups are used for and how they help us when we cook or bake. Also point out the difference between cups and spoons - how are they different, how are they alike?
- Slowly and silently, match all of the measuring cups to the correct outline. Intentionally mismatch a cup (or two) and show the child how you self-correct (i.e. you place a cup that is too small to be 1 cup on the outline for 1 cup. Sit for a second and look at the cup and move it around a bit to show that it does not match. Try the cup elsewhere until you find the correct outline. Place the cup on the correct outline).
- Place all of the cups back into the basket but not stacked in order. Just place them in the basket out of order.
- Invite the child to match the cups.
- On day 2 repeat the same procedure with the measuring spoons.
After the child has mastered matching the measuring cups and spoons on the board, invite them to do another activity with the board. Say: "[child's name] I need one third of a cup please" and allow the child to find the 1/3 cup. Continue in this way until you have asked the child for all of the measuring cups (or spoons) and he/she has correctly given you the cup (or spoon) you asked for.
If the child gives you the incorrect cup (or spoon) use the board to show them where the correct cup (or spoon) is and ask the child to place the cup they have in their hand on that spot. Ask: "Is that [size of cup or spoon you asked for]?" Point out the attributes that tell you it is not the correct cup or spoon (i.e. this cup is too big; this cup is too small, the handle on this cup is not long enough, etc.) Allow the child to find the correct cup (or spoon).
When the child has finished working with this activity you can place the board on the refrigerator for reference. When your child is helping you cook or bake, ask the child to pass you the measuring cups or spoons you need. If they need assistance, direct them to the board on the refrigerator for help. Invite them to match the cup or spoon in their hand to the outline on the board to verify they have the right cup or spoon insha'Allaah.
Later, when you feel your child is ready, write the fractions that represent the measurements of each cup and spoon on the outlines on the board. Show your child these fractions on the cups and spoons themselves. At this stage, it is enough just to show the child how we write 1/3, 1/4, etc. with numbers.